North London man who shone laser beam at police helicopter and 'blinded' crew member avoids jail

Francesca Gillett
Limshin Chung Ching Wan, from Blackdown Close, was given a suspended sentence: Met Police

A north London man who momentarily blinded a police officer by shining a laser pen at a helicopter has avoided jail.

Limshin Chung Ching Wan, 42, shone the green laser into the cockpit of a police helicopter as it passed over East Finchley in January this year.

The pilot had to change course and one of the National Police Air Service helicopter’s crew members temporarily lost vision after it was targeted by Chung Ching Wan, of Blackdown Close.

Police in Barnet sped to the address where it was thought the green beam of light had come from and Chung Ching Wan was quizzed about the laser.

He initially denied owning any laser pens but later gave officers the laser pointer. Officers seized three more of the devices from his home.

Green beam: A police helicopter was targeted in the laser attack. (@NPAS)

Chung Ching Wan, who pleaded guilty to recklessly and negligently acting in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft, had opened the window of his house to get a better aim and shone the laser at the crew several times.

He was sentenced at Harrow Crown Court on Thursday to six months imprisonment suspended for two years and was given a curfew. He was also ordered to pay £300.

Sergeant Jamie Kay from Barnet police said shining a laser at an aircraft is “incredibly dangerous”.

He said: “The helicopter was over a built up area and this had the potential to lead to catastrophic results both for the occupants of the helicopter and wholly innocent members of the public below who were probably sleeping in their beds.

"This was not accidental but a deliberate act by Chung Ching Wan.

"Lasers are not toys and they should be handled responsibly."

Following any laser attack, officers use mapping technology to surround any addresses which they believe may contain offenders, often leading to a “prompt arrest”.

Ollie Dismore, Director of Flight Operations for the NPAS said laser misuse is a “21st Century threat”.

“NPAS and the police forces it serves take this offence very seriously and will continue to pursue prosecutions against its own aircraft, as well as supporting airlines and airports in protecting those traveling by air.”

Currently, it is an offence to shine lasers at pilots and offenders could face fines of up to £2,500 or even up to five years in prison.

On Sunday, 5 February, the Secretary of State for Transport MP Chris Grayling announced that those shining lasers at pilots, train or bus drivers could face fines of thousands of pounds or a jail sentence under stronger new powers designed to protect the public.

Mr Grayling said: "Shining a laser pointer at pilots or drivers is incredibly dangerous and could have fatal consequences. Whilst we know laser pens can be fun and many users have good intentions, some are not aware of the risks of dazzling drivers or pilots putting public safety at risk.

“That's why we want to take the common sense approach to strengthen our laws to protect the public from those who are unaware of the dangers or even worse, intentionally want to cause harm. This kind of dangerous behaviour risks lives and must be stopped.”

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